Wales 11th to 17th October, 2013


Carol did the dialysis with a lot of a carry on, she pressed the wrong buttons and got in a right pickle! Left house at about 1.45. Arrived at cottage about 3.50.
Unpacked quickly and I cooked up some roasted veg which we had with grilled cheese on top. Carrots, a squash, peppers, courgettes and red onion. C still not well so I stayed up with some Talisker.
It was our 5th wedding anniversary and I gave C some medicated sweets from the village shop and a home made card because I had not sorted anything out. C gave me some Florentines and a proper card. I felt bad for being crap at the anniversary, it’s because I don’t really think in years and dates.
Went to Sainsburys in Oswestry and stocked up. Drove to what was a P on the map in the forest but it had been closed off and when I checked on latest map there is no P. This was near Glyn Caerion. Short walk to Biddulph’s Tower which also does not exist as such. There probably was a tower a long time ago but now not much more than a cairn. Very autumnal and misty.
We had our postponed anniversary dinner at Seeds in Llanfyllin. C had chicken in sauce and treacle tart and cream. I had bacon and avocado salad, chicken in sauce and creme brûlée. Yum yum.  Glass of red wine for me. Jennings beer for C. Saw a badger on the way back, alive.
Walked to Llanfyllin in the on off rain. Stopped in hotel for some coffee. Went to Spar. These were the only things open. Back again collecting some crab apples which I’m not sure what to do with. Mum used to make crab apple jelly but I can’t be arsed especially not here with only somewhat cramped cooking facilities.
Back to cook green Thai curry. Rice in microwave. Very nice. Bitburger beer and Jaegermeister mini. Tasted like cough mixture. Perhaps it will work as a prophylactic. Carol was worried about me drinking strange foreign liquor so I had Talisker to finish.
To Llanidloes to meet Kate and Del. We got there a little early and had a good rootle round the Great Oak bookshop. And then we met up with K and D who were doing the same. We went to the Great Oak cafe and Del had a proper lunch of risotto and salads. Kate and I had little salads and C had a ginormous flapjack. We wandered round the town and went in nearly every shop. Then to the next cafe for cake for Kate, tea cake and jam for Del, tea for C and ice cream for me.
We waved them off and returned by a country route i.e. lots of little roads. I was going quite slowly but ran over a rabbit which was upsetting. I’ve been driving for 38 years and can count on one hand the number of creatures I’ve run over but it’s still horrible.
Back for a circuit of the lanes on foot from the cottage with just enough light to see.
Light suppers. I had Suma pea soup. Bitburger beer, Fjellvitt. This made me think of white spirit but a bit more of a kick than the Jaegermeister. The holiday is the only time I drink the weird bottles I feel compelled to buy when I’m abroad. After seeing Jaegermeister at the football ground Bruce played in Coventry, I wasn’t so surprised to see it in the supermarket.
Played Scrabble, such an annoying game. When do you ever get a good run of letters? I’ve yet to have that experience.
Talisker night cap.
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Lovely sunny day. Up early for a run. Did reverse of last evening’s walk so as to have more down than up. Not far only 4.5 km but felt much harder than usual.
Drove along the lanes to Sycarth, home of Owain Glyndwr. This is an impressive motte and bailey.
Lovely walk up through forest to good vantage point. Great vistas. Stopped for lunch. Back along fields. Had to practise nav lots as many field boundaries and knobbly contours.
Not all the paths were PROW for the first km but it was a fairly well marked route when we got onto it!
Various foraging opportunities. Chestnuts but they were very small indeed. Rose hips. Elderberries. I didn’t get any of these as feel quite challenged enough by the crab apples which I have learnt are just wild apples.
Back via more country lanes.
Hot choc then C went to bed after hoovering up some dead flies.
Out to the Lime Kiln pub in Porth y Waen about 15 mins away. I had fig and Parma ham and mozzarella starter, then Cajun chicken with salad and chips. Big portions. C had fish and chips with minty mushy peas. She is now cold because unable to wear appropriate clothing ever.
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The forecast rain arrived in big bucketfuls. Into Oswestry to park in cheap car park, £1 all day and to the indoor market which is a hideous 1963 build and replacment for quite a nice looking old building. By the time we reached it my feet were wet so we wandered around whilst the rain clattered violently on the tin roof. More like a fusillade than cats and not at all hot.
The rain backed off a bit so we went round the whole town. Very good bookshop called Booka and a coffee shop for hot drinks.
Then back to the car and to the Old Station antique market. More old expensive tat.
Back along the little roads with grass down the middle and high hedges. We crossed a ford and stopped to clear the road of a fallen branch.
I cooked pasta bolognese. Lovely holiday.
We went straight home and Carol got set up on dialysis. She managed to go for 6 nights without but did seem to be getting increasingly tired. I went for a nice run.
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I made crab apple pie with cinnamon, vanilla and cloves in filo pastry. Delish!
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Llanfechain February 2013

Sat 23rd February

We both got up very early and I delivered Carol to Huddersfield hospital for dialysis at 7.30 am. C had swapped with another patient so as to get the early slot. I went back home and packed the car up and did lots of last minute jobs before returning to collect C at 11.20. We set off and arrived in Llanfechain at 2 pm.
Unloaded the car and then out for a swift trot round the lanes from the cottage, very cold and snow threatening. Back at Pentre we saw Nicky who had sad tale of her dogs, one now ok elsewhere and one savaged to death by a neighbouring collie. She now has a pug puppy which is quite sweet. It snowed in a light dusting way.
Nicky had rung us on Friday eve to say the heating wasn’t working but we still opted to go as we’re not free at the same time together for a long time. The heating was fixed thank goodness, with snow about.
Quick relax then out to Seeds in Llanfyllin. I had smoked salmon, then rib eye beef with mushrooms in port sauce with green beans, red cabbage, carrots and potato, then lemon posset with black currant on top. Mainly I had the posset because I didn’t know what it would be like. All very nice indeed. C had chicken in sauce followed by white chocolate cheesecake with passion fruit. We discussed whether white chocolate actually is chocolate at all.
All washed down with Spitfire beer from Shepheard Neame in Kent. Well stuffed.


Sun 24th February
Lazy start to day. The snow had mostly gone by the time we set out. Stopped in Llanfyllin for supplies then up on ridge looking to Clawdd Mawr. More snow and much colder up there. So cold that we quickly changed plans of climbing the hill for a short wintry circuit of about a mile and a half. Had lunch in the car and then took the little roads to Pontrobert and back to Llanfechain.
I cooked us a pasta and minced beef concoction which was good, then we watched War Horse some of which is supposed to be Devon but it looked like Kentmere in the Lakes to me. Not one of the horses received a credit which was really annoying.

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Mon 25th February
Today we got up lazily and drove to Llanidloes where we looked in the Great Oak bookshop and had a coffee (Carol) and a hot choc (me) to warm up in the whole food cafe. I bought some broccoli in the organic veg shop and then we went to Spar for milk.
We left the town to park up and walked in a south westerly direction away from the town. We got onto a ridge which took us along hidden tracks and through beech woods and past the most messy farm I’ve ever seen. Really horrible and quite discomfiting. A lot of the ground was muddy and some was frozen and our boots got heavy with mud and manure.
We arrived at another farm which was a lot tidier but with loads more mud and 2 barking dogs to come and run at us. They did have an old farmer to call them in. I got goosed by one of them. Back to the road and the car. Past a place marked on the map as Ppg Ho. I know Welsh is hard but this takes the biscuit.

I’ve got a thing about stands of trees on the skyline.

We had a lovely time and this was very significant as it was the first of our trips away now that Carol is on dialysis and shows us we can get to Wales very quickly and stay in lovely cottage and have a short break away. Although nearly as much packing as for a whole week!

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Mid Wales 31 August – 7 September

Friday 31st August
Journey to Llanfechain was a bit mad because we decided to use the little roads but with the road map. We should have got the OS maps out!
Walked from Pentre where we are residing this week, out the back, up the hill, along a heavily nettled path past a derelict building that was too small to be a cottage. Then along a bit and back down the road. Very pretty and completely unspoilt along little lanes. Lovely.
Home to easy supper of Look What We Found chicken korma with rice.


Saturday 1st September

Walked from Llangynog car park along road to east then up green lane through very old oak wood. One enormous oak had a circumference of 6 metres. We measured a piece of grass on my compass and did some sums. This is about 430 years old according to the Woodland Trust’s ready reckoner.
It was hot in the sun so we stopped for lunch by a stream and then walked a bit more along the u shaped valley. We retraced our steps but went back to the little road on the far side of the stream.
Having done my Hillfit exercises this morning, I now did some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) so ran 220 metres in 2 bursts. Can’t be too unfit as recovered very quickly.
Carol and smallish oak
Posing? Moi?!
 Saturday evening
After delicious home made not Shepherds Pie because no potato masher, we stepped out for a night walk along the lanes near the house. We walked about 3 miles or so and saw no one and no cars. The moon came in and out as a day after full.
With flash
Without flash


Sunday 2nd September
Drove to Llandrillo to the Tyddyn Llan restaurant where I waited quite a while to see if Carol would recognise that we had been here before. We both had set lunch for £19.50. I had mozzarella with tomato huge portion, followed by chicken tarragon on a pancake with loads of veg.. There was roast spuds, peas with bacon, leeks in cheese sauce baked, steamed green beans and carrots and yummy courgette fritters. Carol had pork loin with all the veg. To be honest the food was good but a bit heavy on the grease levels for Michelin star and Good Food Guide. C then had biscuit glacé with raspberry sauce. This was a sort of nougat ice cream. We were both very stuffed then so came back for early evening walk.
We walked from the cottage again but a different circuit mainly off roads but coming back using the little lanes. Again saw no one and no cars. It’s a great spot for quietness. Lovely weather too. My legs actually getting an airing!
Towards Llanfechain
Made me think of soldiers marching up hill
Proper walker
Not posing again
Just loved the green
Monday 3rd September
Back to Llandrillo to walk to the stone circle called Moel Ty Uchaf.  Very hot. Tremendous views from the circle where we lunched. Across to Arenig Fawr in the west and Aran Fawddwy in the south west.  Then back using a bit of a circuit to ring the changes. Only saw 2 men with motorbikes.
Nicky showed us round her house which is lovely. She is an ex model and was in famous Ossie Clark creation taken by Norman Parkinson, I recognised the picture. I cooked chicken and veg and pasta but it was a bit on the hot side.
Moel Ty Uchaf stone circle
And with hills in background
I liked the contrast
Also here
Lane back to Llandrillo
Carol not posing
Me neither
Inside of the cottage


Tuesday 4th September
Mainly a day touring round in the car. Went to Welshpool and Llanidloes via Tregynon. Gregynog Hall is in Tregynon and brought back memories of a fairly raucous few days there back when I was at UWIST (University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology – UWIST now subsumed into Cardiff University when it was amalgamated with University College, Cardiff). Liked Llanidloes and had nice time in the bookshop. Travelled some more B and unclassified roads to get back to the cottage. Needed air after too long in the car so did another circuit of the lanes round here for about an hour. Carol had some leftover lamb hotpot. I am on a fasting day so had some broccoli.
Gregynog Hall, Tregynon
Llanidloes market hall
Please help me to identify this
Evening walk
Wednesday 5th September
First we looked in Llanfechain and went round the church which is dedicated to St. Garmon. Then drove to Llanrhaedr-ym-Mochnant on lovely little lanes without seeing other cars.
We were following a walk in Ron’s Rambles. It goes up on the road towards the waterfall and then up what is someone’s drive then into the woods. This comes out onto a field and it was ok until we needed to avoid some cattle. We did this but then reached a gate saying “No entry”. We could have gone back to a gate but instead decided to cross a barbed wire fence into a cow dung puddle. This got us more or less to the other side of the “No entry” gate. Then it was across a road, along some fields to the Afon Lwrch. We used a footbridge to cross and then up another field to a track along the side of Mynydd Mawr. We stopped for lunch and carried along the track which has great views to green valleys. Past what seemed a very remote house and up onto the side of the hill, Ron’s measurements were a bit on the generous side. We then tracked back along the hill at height which was very beautiful, coming to a tiny church tucked into the hillside. This is St. Garmon’s too. We chatted with a sweet old couple and tried to help them decipher a tomb stone but this was doubly challenging as in Welsh and very eroded.
Down the lane and then continuing with Ron, we took a path across a field of sheep but clambered into one full of bullocks. Big mistake. They were a bit too interested in us and we couldn’t get back to the gate so in a mega panic we not only got very muddy but ended up crossing a stream and another barbed wire fence to escape from the killer bullocks. We tracked down some fields, squeezed under an electric fence and arrived at the Afon Lwrch again but it was too big to cross so we got back over the barbed wire again, over the smaller stream and then up what felt and looked like a near vertical ascent of scrub, brambles and dead trees to reach the road. Then it was just a couple of kilometres to get back to the car.  It was a bit too adventurous and we both agreed we had made the wrong decision by going into the bullock field. Silly idiots!
Chicken and veg in white sauce bake with sliced spuds on top and more sprouting broccoli. Yum!
St. Garmon’s Llanfechain
St. Garmon’s Llanfechain
How green was my valley
Not a good look
Any fungi people out there?
St. Garmon’s Plas-y-Newydd


Thursday 6th September
Went to Montgomery which I had been told was a town with lots of shops. It’s a very nice town but only actually has about 3 shops. I managed to buy a book and some veg. We walked up to the castle and ate our picnics in the ruins.
Then went on to Bishop’s Castle which had lots of shops by comparison. Here I managed to buy 2 books, some soap, and some cheese.
This all took a surprising amount of time so we headed back to do a bit of packing up before heading out to Seeds in Llanfyllin. This is a very nice little resto. I had Italian cold meats and mozzarella starter with figs, main of sautéed lambs’ kidneys in mustard sauce with beetroot, broad beans, carrots, spuds. C had chicken and black pudding in nice sauce. I had creme brûlée and C had treacle tart for pudding. All washed down with beer from Pontypridd. Chatted with some of the other customers who helped us with our Welsh pronunciation and we got the hostess warmed up by the time we left.
Montgomery Castle
Montgomery Castle
Montgomery Castle
Friday 7th September
Came home via Lake Vyrnwy which is a Victorian reservoir with splendid big chunky made to last architecture. I was very taken with the Straining Tower. Then took a mountain road to Bala, stopping on the way to walk a few kilometres in the sun on Foresty tracks. We also had a brew by the road and sat by a babbling brook to drink.
Then stopped once more at Carrog for our lunch and then home.
A lovely week with the best weather of the year, no rain and lots of sun for a whole week in Wales!
The Straining Tower!
Lake Vyrnwy
In the Aran mountains
Next time at this cottage bring wooden spoon and cheese grater. Spud masher and lemon squeezer optional.
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.